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Meet Tara Tjosaas of Inlustrus in Baldwin Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tara Tjosaas.

Tara, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
As many of us do in our early 20s, I moved away from home with ambitious dreams and goals that I knew only Los Angeles could accommodate. Along with all of her opportunity, however, came equally vast challenges that shaped myself and Inlustrus into what it is today. Born and raised in Riverside, I spent all of the time I could coming out to LA- I fell in love with her vibrant arts culture – and quickly grew a network of close friends here. I moved into a small apartment in East LA as soon as I was old enough to move out on my own. I had an amazing network of supportive artists and creatives here; however, I had very little resources to support myself. Right when I needed it most, I got a lead for a job opening working for a designer in Downtown Jewelry District. I had never made jewelry before, but I had trained in dental technology using a similar skill set: very fine tool work, attention to detail, and a need for precision. In working for my first designer, I found the artistic outlet I needed that could pair with something I excelled at.

Over the next ten years, I worked for inspiring LA designers who all grew my abilities and expanded my understanding of what a quality jewelry line is. I knew that one day I wanted to be able to have the freedom to share my own creations, but financially the dream seemed impossible. I didn’t grow up in financial stability; there were many times when our family was eating donated food and living with friends. I myself was now living paycheck to paycheck, so the capital required to start my own company wasn’t available. The funds required to start our company came from an investment I wasn’t expecting- my brother. He had been living out of a van and working overseas to save for school for the last few years, but just received a full scholarship. He called me up from around the world to pitch me an idea: His experience in finance with my design abilities to launch a startup. We immediately knew that we were embarking on something great, and six months later Inlustrus was born.

Has it been a smooth road?
Inlustrus is a passion project for us, and although full of difficulties, every setback has helped us to grow. The first of these was our first booth event. The whole family was involved in the months of planning, designing, building and networking for it- only for it to completely tank. Zero sales over three days, and a dent in not only our small capital but our hope for the success of the company. We did learn from this setback though. We now knew one demographic that didn’t have interest in our style, we also knew we had to be more creative (and cost effective) in how we found customers in the future, and the most important lesson learned was that the team that supports inlustrus, my family, is our greatest asset.

I love working with my family. Each person is talented and contributes so much in different areas. There is also a level of trust and commitment that goes beyond any expectations you could have of a traditional team. Even now, we are still learning and growing through challenges. I still work full time, so all my free energy is spent working on the company. While it can be exhausting, it is extremely fulfilling.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Many companies provide high end designs that lack the creativity we see on the street, while others have the artistic creativity but lack the same quality of build and materials. We love the culture of Los Angeles and the diverse population of artists, dreamers and creatives that it is made of. Inlustrus’s goal is to provide that community with a bridge in the gap that doesn’t exist: high-quality jewelry that maintains its roots in the underground art scene. We are diamonds and gold with a dash of unrestrained creativity.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is full of opportunity. It provides access to an entire district specifically dedicated to jewelry supplies and vendors. I think being in LA, and access to these places all within a couple of blocks of one another is a huge advantage. LA is expensive though, so I would recommend starting out here if they currently live here or if they have a good plan and financial security already in place for themselves.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Gianna Christina Photo

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